I took a closer look at the latest 32-bit DACs and wondered how much better they can be over other state of the art 24-bit DACs, so let’s take a quick look:
ESS9012: DNR: 133db, THD: 120dB - 32 bit
AK4497EQ: SNR: 128dB, THD: 116dB - 32 bit
compared to classic vendor’s 24-bit reference DACs:
CS5381: SNR: 120dB, THD: 110dB - 24 bit
WM8741: SNR: 125dB, THD: 100dB - 24 bit
PCM1792: SNR: 129db, THD: 128dB - 24 bit
and some more reference points:
vintage 1996 CS4328: SNR: 120db, THD: 93dB - 18 bit
PCM5102 (as in TEAC HA-P50): SNR: 112dB, 93dB - w/ 32-bit interf.?!
So they are not really much better than other state of the art reference DACs, e.g. the Cirrus Logic Crystal DAC, and the TI Burr Brown DAC has even mostly better spec? Hmm, …
And in case of the PCM5102 as used in the Teac HA-P50 portable headphone amp I am actually quite disappointed that it’s technical specs are not really better than a vintage, 1996 Cirrus Logic CS4328. Back in the day their state of the art reference DAC.
And what are the theoretically limits for 24 bit (simplified):
20*log10(2)*24 == 144dB
and for 32 bit:
20*log10(2)*32 == 192dB
So which theoretical limit are those DACs approaching?, …
I rather have an honest 24-bit DAC than a 32-bit marketing wanna be. And even the 1996 CS4328 already accepts surplus bits on the serial bus. So you could already call those “with 32-bit interface”, ..:-)
Update: Even more curious are the newer TI, Burr Brown chips:
PCM1792: SNR: 129db, THD: THD+N: 0.0004% - 24 bit
PCM1795: SNR: 123db, THD: THD+N: 0.0005% - 32 bit
Huh? Why has the Advanced Segment 2009 DAC worse spec than the 2004 one (beside consuming less power, …)?